A Guide to New National Park Reservation Requirements This Summer

published Apr 25, 2021
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Yosemite National Park

As the U.S. continues to hit its stride with COVID-19 vaccine rollouts, a semblance of normalcy (whatever that means) is on the horizon for travelers. The road to herd immunity is still long and winding, though, so the prioritization of safe, outdoor travel remains. While many facets of the travel industry struggled at the start of the ongoing pandemic early last year, national parks across the country experienced a record number of visitations. With its open outdoor spaces that allow for social distance guidelines and a change in natural scenery for many, the spike in outdoor travel comes as no surprise. 

Welp, summer days are ahead, meaning an influx of national park trips are on the horizon. To prepare, a few national parks across the U.S. have implemented new reservation guidelines to ensure that overcrowding does not occur — making the health of employees and visitors a top priority. Before you plan those summer road trips with your quarantine pod, make sure you’re aware of the newly-implemented reservation systems that need to be accounted for in advance. Read on below for some new guidelines. 

Yosemite National Park, located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, announced earlier this month that beginning on May 21 through September 30, visitors will need a day-use reservation ($2, included in $35 car entrance fee) to enter the park to minimize risks of coronavirus exposure. Required for all visitors, including annual and lifetime pass holders, the day-use reservation is valid for one vehicle and occupants of the vehicle, and will be valid for three consecutive days. For those staying overnight on the campgrounds or hotels, however, the day-use reservation is already included in those overnight reservations.

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Rocky Mountain National Park

In Maine’s Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park will now require vehicle reservations ($2, plus the vehicle ticket prices) for its most popular high point Cadillac Mountain beginning on May 26 through October 19. To access the Cadillac Summit Road, visitors can either choose the “sunrise” or “daytime” option. Rocky Mountain National Park, located in northern Colorado, on the other hand, has launched a new timed-entry permit system ($2, plus $25 vehicle entry). Beginning on May 28 through October 11, there will be two types of permits to choose from: one for Bear Lake Road Corridor, which includes access to the corridor and the rest of the national park, and one for the rest of the national park, excluding access to the Bear Lake Road Corridor. 

Each Rocky Mountain National Park permit allows visitors to enter within two-hour windows of availability. Visitors with camping or lodging reservations are exempt from the permit systems. Finally, Glacier National Park, located in Montana’s Rocky Mountains, has announced a new ticketed vehicle entry system ($2, plus $35 vehicle permit) for its famed Going-to-the-Sun Road beginning on May 28 through September 6. Tickets are valid for seven consecutive days.